The good, the bad and the ugly as the New Orleans Saints look to extend their winning streak to 9 games, on the road against the Rams.
Mark Ingram couldn’t have said it better in his post-game interview this Sunday after their 8th straight win. After their 34-31 OT win against the Redskins he happily said, “That’s what championship teams do. When you don’t play good, you find a way to win.”
The Saints seemed quite stagnant until they staged a miraculous 15 point comeback with less than 6 minutes left in the game. Kirk Cousins’ torched the injured and jumbled Saints defense for 322 yards and was given a QBR of 132.6 (both are the highest since Week 2).
As for the Saints’ offense, they showed their firepower in the end, but they too at times struggled. At one point, when Washington went ahead 31-16 it seemed as if the Redskins offense was unstoppable and the Saints’ weren’t going to find a way back.
However, like Mark Ingram pointed out, they found a way to win. And that alone is the most important takeaway from this game. Going into this game the Saints had to win if they wanted to seriously be considered a contender. Thus, to win this game the way they did further proves that this team is for real. This win was an important one prior to arguably one of the biggest games of the year against the 7-3 Los Angeles Rams in Week 12.
Other good takeaways
The Saints run game, Coby Fleener’s being clutch and the defensive ability to get stops during the key moments.
Once again Ingram and Kamara proved that they the best RB duo in the league. Ingram finished with 155 total yards and a touchdown. Kamara went for 116 total yards and the game-tying touchdown and two-point conversion to close out the regulation portion of the game.
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In a post-game interview with Deon Sanders for NFL Network with Ingram and Kamara, Ingram reassured that with each week they have to keep working to be the best and that they can’t get complacent. The Saints are now 3rd in the NFL in rushing thanks to these two. Their continued success will be crucial to next week’s game against a Rams’ defense that ranks 28th in rushing defense.
It was also good to see Coby Fleener (whom many consider a bust) come up big down the stretch. Fleener finished as the Saints top receiver with 91 yards on 5 catches. Hopefully, he can continue production throughout season’s end.
Lastly, although the Saints defense let up a lot of yards and didn’t play their best, they still showed they could execute when the game was on the line with two big stops to close out the game. That is important as the Saints line up against the 4th best offense in the league this Sunday although a bit tattered without wide receiver Robert Woods.
The bad: the injuries
During the 4th quarter, Alex Okafor was carted off the field. News later came that Alex Okafor would be out for the season with the injury. Okafor also received the game ball from Pro Football Focus for this game despite his injury. Potentially indicating the magnitude of this loss. Marshon Lattimore also injured his ankle on a pass deflection in the end zone. He would re-enter the game on the first play of the second half, only to re-injure the same ankle. His status still
remains unclear for the upcoming week, but he pointed to a potential return on Twitter.
The Ugly: the Saints’ defense giving flashbacks to times before the 8-game win streak.
It seems like forever ago when the Saints were 0-2. Many of us forgot what that team looked like after getting caught up in the win streak and the multiple blowouts. But the truth is that this Redskins team was one of the better offenses we have faced since the Patriots in Week 2.
Kirk Cousins and company exposed flaws in our defense that the Saints had forgotten about. While this does allow for the Saints to have a lot of teaching points coming out of a game which they won, it’s still nerve-racking having these flaws exposed prior to facing the Leagues’ 4th best offense.
With the Falcons win over the Seahawks Monday night and the Panthers right at the Saints heels, this game against the Rams is now an almost must-win for the Saints. It will be crucial in order to stay atop the NFC South and keep confidence high.
The matchup this Sunday should be a great one as the best offense in the league (Saints) will go against the 16th best defense (Rams) and the 4th best offense in the League (Rams) will go against the 13th best defense (Saints).
The injuries discussed for both teams could add an interesting element to the game as well. The Saints and Rams kick off at 3:25 PM CT at the Los Angeles Coliseum. The game will air on CBS and the broadcast crew will be Jim Nantz and Tony Romo.